WordPress
Article

Common WordPress Issues and How to Fix Them

By Charles Costa

For many developers, WordPress is a go-to solution for both large and small jobs, however as with most things in life, it’s far from a perfect solution. Despite being a leading platform on the web, WordPress’ versatility makes it difficult to pinpoint the sources of failure when something breaks. While it’s impossible to explain every WordPress issue within this article, the guide below should help you navigate a few of the most common mistakes.

WordPress Errors

The White Screen of Death

For the few readers who are fortunate enough to have never encountered the white screen of death, this error consists of a blank screen loading when you try to access the site in question.

The two major causes of this error are compatibility issues from plugins and themes. If you can access your administration panel, the best way to pinpoint this error is to try deactivating all your plugins one by one, and if that doesn’t work, then try changing your theme to the default WordPress design.

The First Steps

If you can’t access your administration panel, you’ll have to manually deactivate the plugins and themes over FTP. After logging into your server, navigate to the plugins directory (usually wp-content/plugins) or the themes directory (wp-content/themes) and append ‘_old’ to the end of the name.

From there try accessing your admin panel. If you get in, you can try reactivating your plugins or themes individually until you recreate the issue. Once that happens, you’ll know the primary source of your issues.

Advanced Troubleshooting

For more advanced troubleshooting, you can also go into your wp-config file and set the WP_DEBUG value to true (as shown below):

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );

After doing this, navigate to the page with the error and you should see the details of what is causing your errors. Once you are done, be sure to disable this feature by setting the value to false (as shown below):

define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

Maintenance Mode after an Upgrade

Updates are a vital part of keeping your WordPress website functional. Occasionally, however, the system doesn’t clean up all the files from the process. If you ever get the message ‘Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Please check back in a minute.’ After updating your site, then you most likely need to remove your .maintenance file manually.

To do this, log into your website via your FTP program and delete the .maintenance file in your root folder. Your site should now work properly.

Reset Password System is not Working

The Simple Method

If you’re using the default admin user (i.e. your username is admin) you can reset your password via FTP.

  1. Access your site via FTP and download your active themes functions.php file

  2. At the beginning after the opening < ?php line, add the following: wp_set_password( 'password', 1 );. In this command, the 1 is the user ID, and password should be changed to your desired password.

  3. Upload this file to your site.

  4. After logging in, go back to the functions.php file and remove the code you just entered because it will otherwise reset your password every time the user logs in.

The Complex Method

For those times when you lose the admin password and having a reset password link emailed to you isn’t working, you’ll need to reset your password manually. The best way to do this is to use phpMyAdmin to edit your WordPress database. You can also edit the database from the MySQL command line, but phpMyAdmin greatly simplifies the process.

First, convert your desired password into an MD5 hash by using a hash generator. Then complete the steps below:

  1. Navigate to your WordPress database

  2. Access the wp_users table

  3. Look for the row containing your username

  4. Update the user_pass value within that row with the hash you generated before completing these steps

  5. Apply the changes you made

Insufficient Memory

On many servers, the default memory amounts allocated to WordPress isn’t sufficient to handle extensive customizations to WordPress. Fortunately, increasing your WordPrss memory limit can be done by adding the following line to your WordPress config file:

define( 'WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M' );

The above command sets the WordPress memory limit to 64M. If you need a higher or lower limit, replace that value with the desired amount.

A Proactive Way to Protect Yourself

In a worst case scenario the best solution to resolving difficult WordPress errors is to roll back to an older backup that you have on hand. One of the ways to streamline this process is to explore your managed WordPress hosting options. If you choose to handle all site maintenance yourself, then you should ensure that you at least have a rolling cycle of daily, monthly and weekly backups.

Comments
clairep

I Cannot upgrade WP automatically OR using the manual method.
(FPT times out, and my server thinks I'm a hacker). Cannot delete
WP Admin or Includes folders to upload the new ones.

I get errors copying to my WP admin files. Permissions problem.

Also, I want to get rid of Akismet AND the old WP default themes.
They won't update OR delete.

theonlylos

Hi Claire,

Without accessing your server it's pretty hard to give exact directions, but usually permissions problems are a matter which can be handled by your web host. More details on WP permissions can be found at: http://codex.wordpress.org/Changing_File_Permissions

As far as the server timeout, that likely is due to a PHP setting. You should have your host bump up your WordPress memory.

As mentioned in the article you'll want to go into your wp_config file and add the following:

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '128M');

Your host probably could do it for you if you want.

If you follow those two steps you should be good to go. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions, let me know!

psteinbronn

I am having a major issue on my Wordpress site and don't know how to fix it. I had to update the site manually as there was a problem with malware and the ISP shut the site down. I got it back up and running with help from a programmer (paid them of course) but now none of the plugins are showing and it won't even let me install new plugins. I can see the plugins in the file structure on the server, but they don't show up in the Wordpress admin panel. And so, part of the site isn't working as it depends on a couple of the plugins--I don't even have any editing tools when I go to edit a page.
Please advise.
Thank you.

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